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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality

6. Our Holosymbiotic Personal Selves

Forgas, Joseph and Kipling Williams, eds. The Social Self: Cognitive, Interpersonal and Intergroup Perspectives. New York: Psychology Press, 2002. A worldwide assembly of papers describe a ‘tripartite model of the self’ as a symbiosis of individual, interpersonal or relational and socially collective features. Human persons are intensely social beings engaged in a ‘symbolic interactionist’ role between their own personality and an encompassing community.

Friedenberg, Jay. Dynamical Psychology: Complexity, Self-Organization and Mind. Litchfield Park, AZ: ISCE Publishing, 2009. A Manhattan College psychologist ventures a book-length treatment of a nonlinear reconception akin to Jeffery Wagman (2010). A procession of chapters from Systems and Complexity, Self-Organization, Dynamical Systems, Networks, to The Fractal Mind, Cognitive Processes, and Problem Solving and Evolution advance this welling revolution. Not seen in full, here is the publisher’s précis.

Over the past several decades, the sciences have witnessed a significant paradigm shift. Our traditional notions of order, energy, causality and methodology have all been upended. A new set of views has arisen that enables us to better understand and examine the complexity of nature. In this perspective, behavior is nonlinear, order emerges spontaneously and responses are best understood as the movement of trajectories through multi-dimensional space. This book examines the role that dynamical systems, complexity science, networks, and fractals play in helping to explain the most difficult thing of all: ourselves.

Gallagher, Shaun. Philosophical Conceptions of the Self. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 4/1, 2000. Thoughts on various definitions of personal integrity with an emphasis on the “narrative self” constructed as one’s distinct “center of gravity,” which is maintained in social relationships.

Gelfand, Michele and Ed Diener, eds. Culture and Psychological Science. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 5/4, 2010. In this new journal of the Association for Psychological Science, an Introduction to a section on the convergent cross-fertilization between psychology and sociology which now seems to have reached a new phase of mature confirmation. See Markus and Kitayama, and Park and Huang herein.

The field of psychology is witnessing a revolution of sorts of which it may not be fully aware. From neuropsychology to globalization, this volume makes clear that culture research is beginning to permeate all areas of psychological science. The special issue includes articles on culture and neuroscience, culture and memory, culture and decision making, culture and self, culture and development, culture and organizational processes, culture and national well-being, acculturation, and intersubjective culture. Collectively, the articles highlight the fundamental nature of culture research in psychological science. (390)

Gergen, Kenneth. Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. In this manifesto, the Swarthmore College psychologist draws upon years of research, teaching, and counseling to advocate a vital turn from bounded, isolated individuals to conversational, supportive communities. The chapters run from our compromised personal lives onto palliative paths to a connective, enhanced livingness, from an impoverished “me” to an enchanted “we.” Practical ways are then advised for therapies, education, knowledge co-creation, and effective organizations. Closing sections broach nurturing moralities that open to a “sacred” consciousness. Kenneth and feminist scholar spouse Mary Gergen are also founders of The Taos Institute to help facilitate these thoughts, please visit its website. If this movement is joined with similar volumes from Franz de Waal, Jeremy Rifkin, Martin Novak and others, along with David Brooks’ The Social Animal (Random House, March 2011) a course correction from our us vs. them gridlock might at last avail, heal and empower.

Constructionist theory and practice locates the source of meaning, value and action in the relational connection among people. It is through relational processes that we create the world in which we most want to live and work. (Taos Institute)

Gilbert, Scott, et al. A Symbiotic View of Life: We Have Never Been Individuals. Quarterly Review of Biology. 87/4, 2012. Senior biological scientists and philosophers Gilbert, Swarthmore College, Jan Sapp, York University, and Alfred Tauber, Boston University, make a major statement that such a propensity for mutually beneficial interactions amongst organic entities from biomolecules and microbes to animal societies is validly proven as real, prevalent and centrally important. Novel reassessments of what makes an “individual” are then viewed across anatomical, developmental, physiological, genetic, and immune aspects. As a result, an organism should be rightly conceived as a “holobiont community” via reciprocal, semi-autonomous entities and their bounded creature or group. Nature’s vital complementarity of me and We is reaffirmed as a universal formative principle. And the article notes in closing that the late Lynn Margulis, who was for decades its valiant founder and defender, is quite vindicated (see Gilbert 2013 for more).

The notion of the “biological individual” is crucial to studies of genetics, immunology, evolution, development, anatomy, and physiology. Each of these biological subdisciplines has a specific conception of individuality, which has historically provided conceptual contexts for integrating newly acquired data. During the past decade, nucleic acid analysis, especially genomic sequencing and high-throughput RNA techniques, has challenged each of these disciplinary definitions by finding significant interactions of animals and plants with symbiotic microorganisms that disrupt the boundaries that heretofore had characterized the biological individual. Animals cannot be considered individuals by anatomical or physiological criteria because a diversity of symbionts are both present and functional in completing metabolic pathways and serving other physiological functions. Similarly, these new studies have shown that animal development is incomplete without symbionts. Symbionts also constitute a second mode of genetic inheritance, providing selectable genetic variation for natural selection. The immune system also develops, in part, in dialogue with symbionts and thereby functions as a mechanism for integrating microbes into the animal-cell community. Recognizing the “holobiont”—the multicellular eukaryote plus its colonies of persistent symbionts—as a critically important unit of anatomy, development, physiology, immunology, and evolution opens up new investigative avenues and conceptually challenges challenges the ways in which the biological subdisciplines have heretofore characterized living entities. (Abstract)

They (new instrumentation capabilities, see Abstract) have not only revealed a microbial world of much deeper diversity than previously imagined, but also a world of complex and intermingled relationships—snot only among microbes, but also between microscopic and macroscopic life. These discoveries have profoundly challenged the generally accepted view of “individuals.” Symbiosis is becoming a core principle of contemporary biology, and it is replacing an essentialist conception of “individuality” with a conception congruent with the larger systems approach now pushing the life sciences in diverse directions. (326)

This moves the biological discussion of symbiotic associations into the venerable conception of “group selection,” so abhorrent to neo-Darwinian sensibilities, and so denigrated by sociobiologists’ conceptions based on game theory. Most discussions of group selection are not germane here, because they assume that the group in question is composed of a single species. However, one important concern is relevant: cheaters. The major problem for all group selection theories (and the groups, themselves) are potential “cheaters,” those lower-level parts of the group that would proclaim their own autonomy and that would multiply at the expense of the others. (331-332)

Gintis, Herbert. A Framework for the Unification of the Behavioral Sciences. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 30/1, 2007. The mind as a decision-making organ, along with a game-theoretic approach, is said to help toward an explanatory basis. Along with peer responses, many who beg to differ, provides a good sense of efforts to forge an evolutionary social psychology.

Gottman, John, et al. The Mathematics of Marriage: Dynamic Nonlinear Models. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003. An effort to reach a theoretical basis for understanding processes related to marital stability or dissolution guided by general systems and nonlinear principles.

Grigsby, Jim and David Stevens. Neurodynamics of Personality. New York: Guilford Press, 2000. Speculations on how the new complexity science can help elucidate the thinking brain and ones personal disposition. By this course, people can reconnect with nested nature since the same autopoietic systems and symbiotic union that organize the developmental universe are manifest in their everyday selves.

In short, personality reflects the emergent properties of a dynamic, hierarchically ordered, modular, distributed, self-organizing functional system, the primary objective of which is the successful adaptation of the individual to his or her physical and social environment. (19)

Guastello, Stephen, et al, eds. Chaos and Complexity in Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Reviewed more in Systems Neuroscience, in this citation we append next its engaging Table of Contents.

1. Introduction to nonlinear dynamics and complexity Stephen J. Guastello and Larry S. Liebovitch; 2. Collective intelligence William Sulis; 3. Neurodynamics and electrocortical activity Tullio Minelli; 4. Psychophysics Robert A. M. Gregson; 5. Temporal patterns in perceptual behavior D. J. Aks; 6. Embodied and embedded: the dynamics of extracting perceptual visual invariants Patrice Renaud, Sylvain Chartier and Guillaume Albert; 7. Origins of order in cognitive activity Geoff Hollis, Heidi Kloos, and Guy C. Van Orden; 8. Nonlinear dynamical systems in developmental psychology Paul van Geert; 9. Developmental psychopathology: maladaptive and adaptive attractors in children’s close relationships Erika S. Lunkenheimer and Thomas J. Dishion; 10. Psychopathology: a nonlinear systems view Wolfgang Tschacher and Uli Junghan; 11. Coherence, complexity, and information flow: self-organizing processes in psychotherapy David Pincus; 12. The dynamics of human experience: fundamentals of dynamical social psychology Robin R. Vallacher and Andrej Nowak; 13. Group dynamics Stephen J. Guastello; 14. Organizational psychology Kevin Dooley; 15. Complexity, evolution and organizational behavior Peter Allen; 16. Agent-based modeling and dynamic network analysis Terrill Frantz and Kathleen Carley; 17. Epilogue: psychology at the edge of chaos Matthijs Koopmans.

Hardy, Christine. Networks of Meaning. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998. Semantic fields or constellations in the brain serve to dynamically represent knowledge. By this theory based much on David Bohm’s holistic physics, mind and matter can be reunited.

Harter, Susan. The Construction of the Self. New York: Guilford Press, 2012. The emeritus University of Denver psychologist draws on a lifetime of study about the ways each person puts together, narrates, and seeks to conceive who they think they are, or would like to be. In large part the arduous process involves one’s immersion in a reciprocity, or conflict, of “developmental and sociocultural foundations.” This 2nd edition expands upon the ways by which we form shifting emotional “representations” through childhood, adolescence, into adulthood. A long added chapter on cross-cultural influences in noted in Complementary of Civilizations. And as I was perusing, in the website context of a deep affinity between human and universe, might we all envisage a grand self-constructing, representing, and witnessing genesis cosmos, which is so trying to achieve through our own phenomenal imaginations?

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